Guess who said, “The internet cannot be something free, where anything can be done or said.”

So who do you reckon? Some right wing fascist despot like….erm….George W Bush? Benjamin Netanyahu? Margaret Thatcher? Nigel Farage? Álvaro Uribe?

An easy mistake to make, I agree, but no. It was everyone’s favourite champion of democracy and freedom (it says here), El Comandante himself, Hugo Chávez, the saviour of Venezuela, sorry, Latin America sorry, the world.

According to an article published today in Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo….

Chavez wants to restrict Internet and cable TV

After censoring 34 radio stations in 2009 – with 29 more at risk of losing their public concessions this year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, called this weekend for restrictions on the internet. On Saturday night, he asked the country’s Attorney General and chairman of the Venezuela Telecommunications Commission, Diosdado Cabello, to take legal action against the Noticiero Digital site, which is supposed to have disclosed false information. He also demanded more control over the internet and said that the dissemination of false news was “a crime”.

“The Internet cannot something be free where anything can be done or said,” Chavez said in a televised speech (doubtless another of his seven hour Sunday harangue-athons – Ed.), referring to texts run on the site, according to which two of his political allies have been killed. “No, each country must be able to have their rules and regulations.”

Site sees threat to freedom of expression

Referring to cable channels, Chavez said:

“They can’t convey what they want, poisoning the minds of so many people. Regulation, regulation, laws!”

Noticiero Digital, a popular news channel which publishes critical comments on Venezuela, yesterday accused the Venezuelan president of extending its persecution of the independent media. “This indictment is a serious threat to freedom of expression,” said a statement on the site.

The site’s management, however, claimed that the texts cited by Chavez contained “false rumors” and said it was “taking steps to ensure that this situation does not recur.”

The articles were deleted hours after going online.

In recent weeks, Chávez and his allies have harshly criticized social networks like Twitter and Facebook, which they said was used by rivals to defame public officials and deceive the public.

Comments on this latest kick in the nuts for democracy from John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Mark Weisbrot and Tariq Ali were, as ever, conspicuous by their absence.

Sure he's an authoritarian megalomaniac, but he hates America....

Hat tip to the estimable Cristina Camargo and Instituto Millenium, an organisation I heartily commend to anyone who understands and cares about Latin America.


4 comments on “Guess who said, “The internet cannot be something free, where anything can be done or said.”

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